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Oliver Cromwell   By: (1882-1937)

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First Page:

OLIVER CROMWELL

A Play

By JOHN DRINKWATER

[Illustration: (Gout bien ou rien) (The Riverside Press)]

Boston and New York HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY

To

BERNARD SHAW

with Homage to the Master Dramatist of his Age and with the Gratitude that is his Due from Every Younger Writer for the English Theatre

The Characters Are

MRS. CROMWELL, Oliver's mother ELIZABETH CROMWELL, his wife BRIDGET CROMWELL, his daughter JOHN HAMPDEN HENRY IRETON OLIVER CROMWELL SETH TANNER TWO AGENTS TO THE EARL OF BEDFORD AMOS TANNER A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS BASSETT, an officer of the House THE MAYOR OF ELY GENERAL FAIRFAX COLONEL STAINES COLONEL PEMBERTON A SCOUT A SURGEON AN AIDE NEAL, Secretary to Charles CHARLES I Farm labourers Members of Parliament

SCENE I

CROMWELL'S house at Ely, about the year 1639. An early summer evening. The window of the room opens on to a smooth lawn, used for bowling, and a garden full of flowers.

OLIVER'S wife, ELIZABETH CROMWELL, is sitting at the table, sewing. In a chair by the open window MRS. CROMWELL, his mother, is reading. She is eighty years of age.

Mrs. Cromwell: Oliver troubles me, persuading everywhere. Restless like this.

Elizabeth: He says that the time is uneasy, and that we are part of it.

Mrs. Cromwell: There's a man's house. It's enough surely.

Elizabeth: I know. But Oliver must be doing. You know how when he took the magistracy he would listen to none of us. He knows best.

Mrs. Cromwell: What time is John coming?

Elizabeth: By nightfall he said. Henry Ireton is coming with him.

Mrs. Cromwell: John Hampden is like that, too. He excites the boy.

Elizabeth: Yes, but mother, you will do nothing with Oliver by thinking of him as a boy.

Mrs. Cromwell: Of course he's a boy.

Elizabeth: He's forty.

Mrs. Cromwell: Methuselah.

Elizabeth: What?

Mrs. Cromwell: I said Methuselah.

Elizabeth: He says John's the bravest man in England.

Mrs. Cromwell: Just because he won't pay a tax. How if everybody refused to pay taxes? If you don't have taxes, I don't see how you are to have a government. Though I can't see that it governs anybody, except those that don't need it.

Elizabeth: Oliver says it's a wrong tax, this ship money.

Mrs. Cromwell: There's always something wrong. It keeps men busy, I suppose.

Elizabeth: But it was brave of John.

Mrs. Cromwell: I know, I know. But why must he come here to night of all in the year? Oliver's like somebody out of the Bible about to morrow as it is. This will make him worse. I wish John no harm, but well, I hope he's got a bad horse.

Elizabeth: Oliver's mind is made up about the common, whatever happens. John will make no difference.

Mrs. Cromwell: You can't pretend he'll make him more temperate.

Elizabeth: It's very wrong to take away the common from the people. I think Oliver is right.

Mrs. Cromwell: Of course he's right. But I'm too old. I've seen too many broken heads. He'll be no righter for a broken head.

(BRIDGET CROMWELL, a girl, comes. She takes some eggs from her apron and puts them on a dish on a shelf.)

Bridget: Why, grandmother, whose head is to be broken?

Mrs. Cromwell: Your father's is like to be.

Bridget: You mean to morrow?

Elizabeth: At the meeting, yes.

Bridget: But he must do it. Why, the people have fished and kept cattle there longer than any one can remember. Who is an Earl of Bedford to take it away from them? I know I would let my head be broken first.

Elizabeth: It is said that the King gave leave.

Bridget: Then the King gave what wasn't his to give.

Mrs. Cromwell: Now, child, don't you encourage your father, too... Continue reading book >>




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